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New Year, New Laws

Tax cut, 12 other laws go into effect when calendar turns to 2015

13 new laws take effect in Indiana with the new year.

Most new laws went into effect with the start of the fiscal year July 1. But a handful take effect January 1, especially those affecting taxes and motor vehicles.

The first phase of the tax cut passed in 2013 kicks in Thursday, shaving a tenth of a point off Indiana's tax rate. The average Hoosier will get to keep an extra 38 dollars as rates fall to 3.3%. The tax cut will be swallowed up in Marion County and five others by increases in local income taxes. Adams, Elkhart, Jasper, Parke and Randolph Counties are also raising rates in 2015. Knox and Wabash Counties will get a double dose of relief, with cuts in both state and local taxes.

A new adoption tax credit also takes effect. And the state is changing the rules for seeking an extension for filing your return. You'll now get an extra seven months instead of four. You still have to estimate what you owe in advance, but your check is due April 15 instead of with your extension form. Both changes align state tax policy with the IRS.

Legislators have loosened rules for calling police to fender-benders. As long as no one's injured, drivers can simply exchange insurance information and license numbers. The General Assembly also sharply curtailed the list of offenses which result in mandatory license suspensions. Only fatal accidents, perjury, leaving the scene of an accident, or repeated convictions for reckless driving will leave a judge with no discretion. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is drafting guidelines for what other circumstances might be reasonable grounds for suspensions.

Moped drivers now must pay $36.35 in taxes and fees to register their cycle with the BMV, and are subject to a statewide speed limit of 35 miles an hour, instead of a patchwork of local ordinances.

And a law that's puzzled students for decades has been repealed: school buses will no longer have to open their doors at railroad crossings.

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